It is a bonus to complete the season with a Cup Final and, following the win over Hampton & Richmond last Tuesday, Ashford now look forward to the Middlesex Charity Cup Final against Wealdstone on Bank Holiday Monday, to be played at Hanwell Town FC, kick-off 7.30 p.m. 

Following a 1-1 draw on Saturday, away to East Thurrock, Wealdstone have just finished in 8th place in the National League South, so we are very much underdogs, as, of course, we were in the last two rounds against Wingate & Finchley and Hampton & Richmond Borough.  We have the bonus though of coming into the match full of confidence with three consecutive victories behind us, no injuries and just one defeat in the last nine competitive games.

One former player we may come up against in the Wealdstone squad is Ricky Wellard, who left us for AFC Wimbledon, for whom he played in the Football League and is now at Wealdstone.  Ricky left us at the end of the 2008-2009 season, with 190 appearances for the club under his belt and 25 goals.  This will be the first occasion we have come across him since then as a direct rival.

We have actually come up against Wealdstone in competitive games on 12 previous occasions, the most recent being in December 2012, when, after a nil-nil draw we managed to win the penalty shoot out by 5 goals to 4 in the Senior Cup, our penalty scorers on that night being Mark Bitmead, Joe Bennett, Kofi Lockhart-Adams, Jack Mullan and Perry Luckins.  We were competitors for three seasons in the Ryman Premier, until they went one way and we went the other, and we actually managed to complete a double over them in the 2007-2008 season.  All in the past, of course, and we congratulate Wealdstone and long serving manager Gordon Bartlett upon reaching their current level and having a good season that saw them on the edge of the play-offs.

Don’t forget that Ashford Ladies have two cup finals still to play, the details being as follows:

Sunday 7th May 2017 Capital Womens Cup
Fixture: Whyteleafe Ladies v Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies FC
Venue: Bedfont Sports Football Club (3G Pitch) TW14 9JR
Kick Off: 14:00

Sunday 21st May 2017 GLWFL Trophy
Fixture: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies FC v Battersea & Hammersmith
Venue: Hampton & Richmond Borough FC (Grass Pitch) TW12 2BX
Kick Off: 13:15

Also a reminder that we have the annual presentation evening on Friday 12 May at the Meadhurst Club.  If you are coming and have not yet paid, please see Graham Cooley asap as places are limited.  We shall certainly have one cup to re-present, that being the County Cup won by one of our Under-13 sides a few weeks.

The Club AGM is the evening before, on 11 May at the Club (8.00 p.m.) when everyone with an interest in the club is very welcome to attend

We now have absolute confirmation from Middx. County FA that the Charity Cup Final against Wealdstone will be on Monday 1 May at Hanwell Town, kick-off 7.30 p.m.

Well done to the Under-18's including several younger players who won their home game against Camberley Town U18 4-3 lat night in the Ryman Youth Match.

Farnborough and Barton Rovers won their respective play-off matches yesterday evening against Egham and Marlow, so will meet in the play-off Final on Saturday, at Farnborough.

Ashford reached the Final of the Middesex Charity Cup on Tuesday evening with a win that was more convincing than the eventual scoreline suggests, beating Hampton & Richmond Borough by 2 goals to 1, Hampton’s goal being the last kick of the match.

With one eye on the possibility of reaching the play-offs, Hampton clearly fielded something of a mixed side but one that was never good enough to trouble the Tangerines, currently on top form and full of confidence. 

The surface is clearly showing signs of strain after a long hard season and the quicker work starts on it, the better, but both sides did their best to play good football in the opening period, which was relatively even.  It did not take too long though for Ashford to take the initiative and on 9 minutes they went one up.  The excellent Samad Kazi somehow retrieved the ball wide on the right, went past a defender before sending in a perfect cross to the far post leaving the unmarked Dan Fleming to plant his header firmly into the back of the net.

There was no further scoring before the break although both sides went close.  Ashford had cause to be grateful to Tyler Tobin twice in succession but it was still mainly the Tangerines after the break even though Hampton reverted to generally playing it long.  That was meat and drink for Russ Canderton and Romario Jonas, who have now forged an excellent partnership and it was not really a surprise when Jack Beadle doubled the lead on 61 minutes, thanks to a pin point through ball from Tommy Brunton.  Jack still had plenty to do but was calmness personified as he controlled the ball and knocked it home for the winning goal for the third time in as many matches.

A third goal should have come but somehow the visiting keeper stopped a point blank header from Fleming but as the match went into stoppage time it looked game over.  Then in the third minute added on by the referee, Hampton pulled one back following a free kick and a nervy last few minutes looked on the clock.  There had been a number of stoppages and six minutes extra could not have been argued with but Mr. Richardson blew his whistle immediately the ball went in, just short of three minutes and Ashford were in the Final.  The Ashford “man of the match” could have been just about anyone but Max Webb shaded it in a close vote.

To the best of our knowledge the Final will take place on Bank Holiday Monday 1 May, at Hanwell Town, kick-off 7.30 p.m.  So far though nobody from Middlesex has come back to confirm this information, especially the kick-off time, which may have been because there was a possibility that Wealdstone could have been involved in a play-off situation.  That is no longer the case (see statement on the Wealdstone web site) so we should have full confirmation very shortly which will appear on here as soon as possible.

Report from Will Boye

Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies sealed promotion after beating Surrey Eagles to wrap up the league title.

Lauren Richardson put in a player of the match performance which included her first ever hatrick in Ashford colours, all goals being contenders for goal of the season.  Lavana Neufville and Sequoia Belworthy caused havoc all game with their combinations and pace in the final third. It was no surprise that Belworthy grabbed a hatrick and Neufville notched five goals.  Neufville turned provider for Amber Luzar, who scored her first goal of the season.  The former Fulham player Chloe Dalrymple was introduced to the game for Ashford and the youngster found her feet very quickly as she played a through pass for skipper Vicky James, who comfortably found the net to end the game 14-1.

With nearest challengers Godalming Town having drawn their final game at home to Ashford Ladies last week, the Tangerines cannot be caught with one league game remaining.

It’s the final home game of this season next week at home to Greenhuse Sports, in 4th place, so let's get the biggest support possible to celebrate this achievement of league champions and back to back promotions.

A big well done also to Martin’s Under-15s who yesterday were confirmed as the league champions, Congratulations to the whole squad who have worked so hard to be where they are today, a great bunch of players well lead by Martin and Glenn.  Well done also to Larry's Under-13's who, although beaten in their Final yesterday, represented the club well, never one letting their heads go down.  Congratulations to Mitcham Park upon their victory.

 

If you are coming to the Presentation Evening, Graham (Cooley) has asked that as many people as possible pay him their money (£20 a head) on Tuesday evening at the Hampton match.

Ashford maintained their recent excellent form with another away win in their final league match on Saturday, returning from Kidlington with a 2-1 win, which sees the Tangerines achieving a top half finish (10th) in their first season back at Step 4.

As often happens at the end of the season, the squad was a little depleted including the non-availability of Mark Bitmead, who was called into work at the last moment.  Other absences meant that we only had one effective substitute on the bench, namely Dylan Duby.

Kidlington had been doing well recently, having completely recovered from their poor start to the season and went into the match with a 3 point lead over Ashford.  The first half though had an end of season feel to it.  Ashford possibly had more of it overall but it was fairly even with no-one really looking as if they would break the deadlock.  That is until Kidlington opened the scoring with what has to be said was an excellent break from an Ashford corner that broke down.  The ball was rapidly moved upfield and, from an acute angle, Kidlington’s Callum Harvey, who had been a menace throughout the half, put his side ahead from an acute angle.

Apart from the goal, the only other talking point was the referee’s insistence that Dan Fleming left the field after receiving treatment for a knock, even though the other player was shown a yellow card.  There was a general view that an injured player is allowed to stay on if the offender has been cautioned but it didn’t happen on this occasion, despite manager Murray’s very clear advice to the official.

The second half, played in warm sunshine did not look as if it would produce many goals if any, despite everyone’s best endeavours and it started to look as if Ashford would return empty handed.  On 80 minutes though in an attack down the right, a Kidlington defender handled in the area.  It was one of those that might or might not have been given but on this occasion the referee was clear in his decision and in the absence of Mark Bitmead, Alex Fisher stepped up and duly levelled the score.

Kidlington felt aggrieved and suddenly there was a greater intensity and passion about the match which worked in Ashford’s favour as with five minutes on the clock, Jack Beadle pounced and rifled home after a rebound, thus scoring the winning goal for the second match in a row.

Kidlington were unable to come back and the points were on their way to Middlesex.  The match was an opportunity for Dylan Duby to come on early in the second half and he showed that he can play, with the benefit of plenty of game time.  In the writer’s view though, Max Webb was Ashford’s stand out player with his aggressive running but Max Herbert and others were not far behind.

The league season is over but we play at home to Hampton & Richmond Borough in the semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup on Tuesday evening at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m., with the winners playing Wealdstone in the Final on Bank Holiday 1 May.

Larry’s Under-23’s lost their Final to Mitcham Park on Sunday morning, 0-2, but put up a good show and did the club proud.

 

It doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that we were off to Northwood for the opening league match of the season but on Saturday, we close the League season with a trip to Kidlington FC.

Ashford are currently in 12th place and mathematically, could achieve 9th depending upon this result and others.  Anything from 11th upwards would be pleasing as that would mean a top half place.  Kidlington, after an unexpectedly slow start, found their form and are currently in 10th position, also with 9th as their possible highest.  Thus there is not too much hanging on the result but the usual competitive match can be expected.

Kidlington play at Yarnton Road, Kidlington, Oxford, OX6 1AT and from ground to ground it is a journey of just under 51 miles, via the M40, to Junction 8.  Supporters may recall that we went there early last season in the FA Vase and rather scraped a draw courtesy of Max Webb, only to lose at Short Lane in the replay.

It is not the final match of the season as next Tuesday we entertain Hampton in the semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. to see who will meet Wealdstone in the Final on Bank Holiday 1 May.

Easter Monday was a "big" day for the club with the visit of all the lovely ladies from the HASAG Charity and the official “retirement” day of physio and erstwhile goalkeeper Pat Munns.

Some incredible generosity from both Ashford and Farnborough supporters raised several hundred pounds for their valuable work and we thank everyone who contributed.  Hopefully the ladies had an enjoyable afternoon in our company.

Pat, in the meantime, had decided to give up active service with the club after starting as a goalkeeper with Ashford back in 1967, when we were still in the Hounslow and District League.  Fulsome praise has already been given for his exploits as a keeper but since retiring he has been kept busy on the bench in the physio role and deserves a rest after 50 years!  It was great to see so many old faces come along to join in the celebrations as Pat received a medal to commemorate his long service and also a framed and signed goalkeeper shirt with “No. 1 Munns” on the back.

As to the match against Farnborough, it was probably a good time to play them as they cannot now finish anywhere other than second place and, even if their players didn’t, their management certainly had a big eye on the play-offs to come next week and were very keen to avoid injuries.  We hope the two players who did sustain knocks regain their fitness in time.

As far as Ashford were concerned, there wasn’t anything special to play for but the squad were certainly motivated sufficiently enough.  The pitch was not at its best unfortunately and we badly need the remedial work in the summer to start immediately it closes down on 8 May, which has been duly planned.

Inevitably Farnham looked dangerous when in possession, given the reputation of some of their players, but Ashford held their own and were not without chances of their own.  The only goal of the game was scored by the Tangerines on 66 minutes through Jack Beadle, his first since returning to the Club from Egham and it was a goal to remember.  Jack had already seen two meaningful efforts either go just wide or saved but there was no stopping this one as he unleashed a tremendous effort from some 25 yards that just flew into the net.

After that it was largely a case of backs to the wall, really for the first time in the game, as Farnborough intensified their efforts.  Keeper Tobin was in inspired form though, with two stunning stops while the woodwork also intervened on Ashford’s behalf, with two other efforts cleared from the line.  Despite all that it was not all one way and Ashford could have scored again themselves but found Farnborough keeper Aaron Bufton equally adept.

The match was witnessed by a healthy 217 spectators and well refereed by Connor Griffin, handling his first match at this level.  The "Ashford man of the match" award was won narrowly by Romario Jonas, immense at the heart of the defence.

The final league match of the season is next Saturday when we travel to Oxfordshire to meet up with Kidlington FC again.  More on that one later in the week.

 

Ashford are delighted to announce that Paul Blair has agreed to take up the post of Football Secretary for next season, following the decision of Geoff Knock to stand down at the end of the season, although he will be remaining with the Club as a member of the Committee.

Director Alan Constable said “it happened by chance really, I was with Paul at a match and mentioned that we were looking for a new Football Secretary, and half-jokingly I asked him if he fancied the job.  He did not turn it down though and after attending last week’s committee meeting he has agreed to take it up”.

Paul was previously the very competent Secretary of Ash United in the CCL and is also a member of Surrey County FA, with specialist knowledge of Chartered Standard matters.  He is also highly competent in IT matters and a member of the CCL Management Committee.

We are also pleased to be able to announce that Steve Clark, a long time club servant, has agreed to take up the post of Finance Director, following the resignation of Jason Brown, who will also be staying with the club.  Steve will hopefully have the expertise of Sue Cox and Jamie Brunton to steer him though, although he is well versed in the way the club works and is well prepared for the job, with an economics degree and a background in pub administration and finance along with his own recruitment business.

Subject to being voted in by members at the AGM on 11 May, both Paul and Steve will take over from that date.

Following yesterday’s win over Farnborough (summary to follow shortly), the club looks to be in a good position as the end of the season approaches and will look forward to season 17-18 with great anticipation.

Following last Saturday’s impressive victory over Kempston Rovers, Ashford travelled to Aylesbury on Saturday and came away with a point in a 2-2 draw.

The fixture list has been such that most of the clubs we have played in recent games have either been fighting for their lives to avoid relegation or to get into the play-offs.  With the possible exception of the match against Histon, it is of great credit to the Ashford squad that they have shown every bit as much determination as any of their opponents in those games.

The match on Saturday was played on a typical end of season pitch, which had plenty of grass but was bumpy, no doubt due to the recent lack of rainfall.  The strong breeze also played a major part with players needing to take two or three touches before they could bring the ball under control.  As a result it was never going to be a spectacle.  The Tangerines started well enough but Aylesbury, as they had to be with relegation still a possibility, were in determined mood, and drew first blood when they went ahead through Alex O’Brien on 21 minutes.

Aylesbury looked stronger after this and deserved their half-time lead but Ashford came out in determined mode in the second period and were instantly rewarded when Mark Bitmead restored parity.  It was so quick that many of us missed the goal.  Within three minutes though Aylesbury re-took the lead through ex-Ashford player Brian Haule after a poor defensive error led to a failure to make a simple clearance.

It is morale sapping to get an equaliser only to give another goal away immediately afterwards but Ashford, boosted by the entry of subs Tommy Brunton and Max Webb, kept plugging away and Dan Fleming hit the bar.  The momentum was now largely with the visitors but not too many clear chances were being created and it looked as if it would be a disappointing defeat but on 89 minutes, Ashford forced a corner and Max Herbert was in a good position to notch a deserved equaliser.  Referee Cox didn’t play anywhere near the amount of additional time there should have been but with the realisation that Aylesbury had secured their place at Step 4 once again and Ashford happy enough with a point, nobody was too unhappy.

As a footnote Aylesbury’s hospitality was superb but it was strange to be there without ex-Chairman Danny Martone who we know is ill and we take this opportunity to send him our best wishes and hope to see him next season.

 

Ashford begin their Easter weekend with a visit to Aylesbury on Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

The address of the ground is the SRD Stadium, Haywood Way, Aylesbury, HP19 9WZ.  Ground to ground it is a journey of 44 miles, using the M25 to Junction 20 and then the A41 to Aylesbury, where there are plenty of roundabouts to navigate!

Sitting in 19th place, our opponents cannot yet be sure of avoiding relegation, although with a six point gap between them and Histon, and just three matches each left to play, they look fairly safe now, especially with Northwood also in dire straits just above Histon.  For their part, Ashford have achieved the 50 point target set at the start of the season and but for something of a mid-season slump would have done better.  As it is, an 8th place finish could still be achieved, although that would require maximum points over the last three games with other clubs needing to drop points.  A more realistic target at this stage would be to achieve a top half finish, i.e. 11th or better.

Aylesbury are currently managed by ex-Ashford player Davis Haule and in previous matches against them, the record is fairly even with Ashford slightly ahead with 4 wins against 3 defeats, with 3 draws.  Earlier this season we managed to take the points with a solitary goal from Alex Fisher, now back and playing after his operation had threatened to keep him out until next season.

On Monday we will be entertaining Farnborough FC, as well as nurses from the HASAG charity, which has been of immense help to Chairman Dave Baker in recent months.  They do a marvellous job and we hope you will be able to find a few pennies to make a donation for their excellent and specialised charity, which helps people who have diagnosed with cancer arising from exposure to asbestos.

Also, it is a special day for our own Pat Munns, who is retiring from active duties with the club after 50 years service going back to 1967, when he was a young goalkeeper.  Pat proved his worth as a keeper over many seasons with only his loyalty to this club keeping him at Ashford's then level.  He played his final match competitive match well into his 50's albeit a one-off but he didn't let anyone down.  In more recent seasons Pat has been on the bench in the physio role and what player wouldn't get up when they saw Pat racing out to treat them!  Pat will have members of his family here this afternoon, to see him receive a presentation from club chairman Dave Baker, including two of his youngest grand children, Alfie and Hope, both aged 5.  Pat, thank you for all your hard work over many years on behalf of this football club.

We congratulate Farnborough who will now finish in 2nd place no matter what, so with the pressure off, both sides can concentrate on their football and give us a game worthy of the occasion.  The writer cannot quite resist referring again to the match at Farnborough when we had Will Boye sent off when he was nowhere near the ball, as Farnborough’s Perry Coles slipped and collided with the advancing Tyler Tobin.  Will showed incredible self control that afternoon, a fact that was largely overlooked, as he made his way off totally bemused.  An apology afterwards from the referee once he had seen the video was welcome but it was a horrendous error, even more so as one of the assistants was equally close to the incident and either had his eyes closed or decided not to intervene.  We can take this opportunity to thank Farnborough for helping us with the video evidence that the FA used to clear Will in just about the fastest appeal hearing ever!

Lots of dates are coming up in the next few weeks.  One is the club AGM to be held on Thursday 11 May at 8.00 p.m. when all club members are very welcome to attend.  The following evening we have our Presentation Evening at the Meadhurst Club.  Another is Saturday 20 May when we have the Michael Buble and Neil Dymond tribute act.  Tickets are just £10 each but selling out fast.

On the field, Larry’s Under-13’s have their League Cup Final on Sunday 23 April, kicking off at 10.00 a.m., at Met. Police FC, Imber Court.  The other side is Mitcham Park Stripes who play two divisions higher so the lads need your support.  There will be a barbecue and party back here at the club afterwards.

Looking ahead, next season will start competitively on Saturday 12 August when we can expect to see some different clubs lining up against us, possibly including:  Thame United, London Colney, Hartley Wintney, Hayes & Yeading and Cambridge City, although all such movements are under the control of the FA, who usually manage to spring a few surprises.

There are no junior fixtures on Sunday due to the Easter Holidays but the Club will be open as usual.